Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Post Apocalyptic
Size: 448 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Ship Breaker series
Source: Audiobook through Audible.com
Rating: 3/5 stars
This is the sequel to Ship Breaker, it’s set in the same world as Ship Breaker but with different main characters. I didn’t like this book quite as much as Ship Breaker…it was just too bleak and I had trouble engaging with the characters.
Mahlia and Mouse have fled the war torn Drowned Cities and live in a small town in the outskirts of a jungle. Mahlia works in the town helping the doctor there and does well, despite her lack of a hand. Mahlia dreams of a day when she will be able to escape these outskirts of the Drowned Cities and head North. When a dog man draws soldiers near their small town their lives change forever.
This book is set in an extremely bleak post-apocalyptic setting on the East Coast of the US. There are little hints throughout that eventually let the reader figure out what portion of the US this book is set in.
The is an incredibly violent and incredibly depressing read. So if you are offended by graphic torture and violence I recommend steering clear. It is even more violent and depressing than Ship Beaker was.
That being said it does a pretty darn good job of portraying the suffering of people living within a long and constant war. As to whether or not this is appropriate for young adults…I think it is okay but beware that the graphic violence in this book makes The Hunger Games look like a Disney Fairy Tale.
I had trouble relating to any of the characters. None of them are good and all of them make a large series of poor decisions. They are very human, but I mostly despised them. All of them kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. Mahlia comes off as incredibly selfish throughout. Mouse and others are incredibly naive despite their violent upbringing.
The most intriguing of the bunch is Tool, the dog-faced man. Tool is complex and simple at the same time; he is a tool of war yet he follows simple philosophies that make a surprising amount of sense. He was pretty much the only part of this book I found intriguing and enjoyable.
The world-building is absolutely fantastic. If you have read The Windup Girl or Ship Breaker, you know that this world is absolutely incredibly creative. The number one strength of this book is this fantastic, dreary world that Bacigalupi has created. The book is fast-paced and fairly engaging.
Overall this is a decent story. I just had trouble maintaining a lot of interest in these brutalized characters and I found the level of violence and bleak outlook depressing. Bacigalupi always has to take things just a bit too far for me, and it takes away a lot of the enjoyment of reading the story for me. I guess I would tentatively recommend to those who are interested in absolutely brutal post-apocalyptic reads of war torn lands.